***The other strange thing about the Westians is they thrive on subtext, but refuse to acknowledge it. When McGuiness says that we should participate in a thought experiment in which we go "all out" for pornography, because "virtue" (in scare quotes), penance, mortification and the like are scrupulous and ineffective weapons against porn, we all know what he's saying; but when we call him on it, the Westians jump in with, "It was a thought experiment!" or "He never said 'confession is useless' - show me where he said those exact words!" The plain meaning of what West and his ilk write does the trick for their eager audiences; but when we criticize them we are told to stick to the exact words and a very literalist interpretation of what is written. The audiences don't take them literally, but their critics are told to.Frustrating.
At any rate, if it's literalism you want, it's literalism you'll get.
These are literal words from McGuiness' article, "A Second Look at Porn", and my literal responses to them.
The truth about pornography – and it is probably a truism in Catholic circles – is that it does not go far enough.
What would pornography look like if it "went far enough"?
“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God,” G.K. Chesterton famously observed and it is no less true of men engaged in solitary Onanism.
Chesterton never said that. And again, my reply: if a man knocking on the door of a brothel is looking for God, he is looking for God in all the wrong places. If men "engaged in solitary Onanism" are likewise looking for God - well, all I can say is whenever I wanted to find God or anything true, beautiful or good - even when I was an atheist - the last thing I did was shut the door and masturbate.
The moralists out there would tell us that the solution to the scourge of porn is “virtue” or self-control or some twelve step program or perhaps intensely frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation; while not discounting the value of confession or the usefulness of AA-type programs in dealing with sexual addictions, I must insist that virtue is a consequence of something else, not something that can be gotten at directly as it were
Why do you put virrtue in scare quotes, Mr. McGuiness? And why is it that those who suggest that virtue, self control, 12-step programs and frequent confession are called - literally - "moralists" by you? These are exactly the thing that helped me overcome my active participation in this addiction. Does that make me a "moralist"? You go on to say that you are not "discounting" the value of these things suggested by "moralists", but you say that virtue cannot be gotten "directly as it were". What do you mean by that?
No, the solution is not to be found in mortification or penance alone, but in beginning to take our own humanity seriously; seriously enough to go to the depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism, which incorporated us into the Body of Christ, in the flesh.
Well, here's what St. Paul said about the "depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism" -
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ... For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. ... Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Rom. 6)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5)
It sure sounds as if the "depths of the inner meaning of our Baptism" is indeed mortification - putting to death all that is earthly in us, such as sexual immorality. These ineffective things the "moralists", as you call them, counsel, are the very things St. Paul points to as the things that guarantee the effectiveness of our new life in Christ.
We take our humanity seriously when we don't “short circuit” the questions that desire raises in us. The Catholic moralist would say, “Impure thoughts, bad! Stop having them;” the Catholic realist asks, “Impure thoughts, what are you really after?”
Mr. McGuiness, I was an active porn addict for many years, and I know exactly what my impure thoughts were after. My heart was restless until it rested in God, but my impure thoughts were restless until they fed on the trash they were "really after" (in your phrase). Not all of our desires are redeemable; not all of our sins are redeemable; this is why the new wine is put into new wineskins; this is why Baptism and its inner meaning - death to sin and mortification of sinful desire - is so important.
If you find scrupulosity satisfying, then, I would say, “Keep at it."
Now, friends, this is a trick of many of these Westians, and other bad writers. So far McGuiness has said that "virtue" (in scare quotes), mortification, 12-step programs and frequent confession are not effective against porn - though he quickly adds that he does not "discount" them. (Why does he not discount them, if they're not effective against porn?)
And now suddenly the "moralists" who counsel this approach are advocating "scrupulosity" - which, of course, is never "satisfying".
This subtle shift from "moralist" - itself a somewhat pejorative term - counseling ineffective "virtue", to a kind of Puritan ("don't have evil thoughts!") counseling "scrupulosity" is simply sinister.
But these are his literal words.
But I can't go on or I'll get sick.
Suffice it to say that the lame defense, "When McGuiness tells the reader to go ALL OUT FOR PORN, he's telling the reader to do so as a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT" is just that, a lame defense.
And the people who defend this abysmal article as advocating porn only as a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT need to have a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT of their own.
They need to start experimenting with Thinking.